Ways to Protect Active Kids Teeth
The school year is in full swing, which means fall & winter sports are underway. Keeping the season fun means playing safe, and playing safe includes protecting your child's teeth.
1. Encourage Mouthguards
Even if it isn't mandatory in your child's sport, you would be wise to encourage him or her to use one. Mouthguards help prevent chips, cracks, knockouts and other impact-related injuries. The Academy of General Dentistry suggests children and adults wear them for sports that present a strong likelihood for contact with other players or hard surfaces. Such sports include basketball, soccer, football, wrestling, rugby, martial arts, skateboarding, bicycling, inline skating, softball and lacrosse.
An estimated 3 million+ teeth were knocked out in youth sporting events last year, according to National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimates. The organization also found that athletes who do not wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth.
Stock mouthguards or boil and bite mouthguards may be purchased for at many drugstores or sporting goods retailers. These options tend to be inexpensive, but they are also less comfortable than a custom-fit mouthguard, which can be purchased through your child's dentist.
2. Discourage Oral Piercings
The Academy of General Dentistry encourages teen athletes with oral piercings to remove them or better yet, forego them all together. The organization's journal reported that 1 in 5 oral piercings results in infection from contaminated puncture wounds and athletes are more likely than most to develop infections due to the increased blood flow and breathing rate involved with vigorous exercise.
If your child has or wants an oral piercing, discuss the risks involved and why removing it for activity is critical. They may like how it looks, but chipped teeth, fractures and infections will detract from his or her overall smile.
3. Limit Energy Drinks
Sports drinks help replace electrolytes during vigorous exercise, but they are excessively consumed these days. In "Sports Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate?," a 2011 clinical report published in Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that while pediatric athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activity may benefit from the carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes in such drinks, the use of sports drinks is generally unnecessary on the sports field or the school lunchroom.
Another recent study published by the Academy of General Dentistry found the high acidity levels in sports and energy drinks erodes tooth enamel. After only five days of exposure, this irreversible damage was evident to researchers, the AGD reported in a May 1 press release. Findings showed that energy drinks caused twice the enamel damage.
Save the sports drinks to their intended use-long and strenuous activities. Water meets most children's needs for hydration while eliminating excess sugar and calories.
Whether your child plays organized contact sports like football or enjoys riding a bike after school, be sure to help him or her do so safely. Even simple reminders, such as remembering to walk on the pool deck or watching where they run when playing in the yard, can help kids reduce their risk of oral injuries and save you money on dental bills.